I just wish to resond to your well-written editorial on “Celebrating 400 years of Carrick” in the issue dated June 22nd. I agree with 99% of its content but given my deserved reputation as the “grim reaper,” I must cast a cold eye on proceedings and constructive criticism.
A swot analysis on Carrick would concur with all the strengths that the town has to offer. On the weakness side, a cynic would argue that that the three multi-national supermarkets arrived due to the strategic location of Carrick, not because of its people or hospitality. Multi-nationals don’t do sentimentality.
Out of town shopping precincts have destroyed the retail heart of Carrick-on-Shannon with no grocery shops on Bridge Street or Lower Main Street. Ten retail units remain empty for two years.
You rightly mention the contribution of voluntary groups but they are few in number and members. You state that the amount of voluntary groups are “overwhelming”, I would argue underwhelming.
Take Westport (population 5,500) which has a staggering 97 voluntary organisations, five major festivals, won the All-Ireland Tidy Towns and was voted Best Town to Live in Ireland by the Irish Times. Venture down to Boyle (popular 1,800). 20 organisations that fill two pages (compact) of local notes in the Roscommon Herald.
From reading the Leitrim Observer, Carrick local notes normally consist of just two columns, 50% of which is occupied by Carrick’s best community venture - the Breffni Family Resource Centre with 12 different activities. Excluding sporting organisations, I can only count about ten voluntary groups in Carrick.
Including the Chamber of Commerce, all have only about five members and they have been around the block for twenty years. No new members. In the eighties, we had scouts, cubs, girl guides, brownies, foroige, youth clubs, etc, all since departed. The same small few continue to soldier with the Community Games - no new volunteers.
After twenty years of successful festivals, Junior Chamber withdrew due to apathy from businesses. The town improvements committee ran two festivals each year between 2000-2004 but independent attitudes in the “boom” town of Carrick killed their efforts.
Now for the positives. Carrick tourist trade is marginally up - busloads of Germans frequent our town with other Nordic nationalities. Donegal Town is attracting coach loads of tourists. Could Carrick hotels home in on this business?
In April, 80 enthusiastic individuals turned up for the second consultation on the Carrick 400. It was refreshing to see all the original festival organisers willing to commit to Carrick 400.
The Dublin launch of Carrick 400 was a success with Tourism Minister, Leo Varadkear delivering an excellent speech as did Carrick native Dermot Gallagher, former secretary at the Deparnment of Foreign Affairs.
Next year, thousands will throng Carrick for the Connacht Fleadh; the National Gathering will bring hundreds of emigrants home.
The town of Carrick is a good town with tremendous people. All must play their part. Good things happen to those who wait and Carrick has plently to offer.
Citizens should actively seek out the voluntary groups that are building up the town and actively partake in Carrick.